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Google software will let cars drive themselves

Google hopes technology will reduce traffic accidents

Google is working on software for cars that will ensure they can drive themselves.

The search engine, which employed engineers from the DARPA Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organised by the US government, revealed it has been successfully trialling the software in six Toyota Priuses and an Audi TT for some time, and they've covered over 140,000 miles with the eight vehicles.

The vehicles use a combination of video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to 'see' traffic and pedestrians, while detailed maps allow the car to navigate to its destination. It will also automatically adjust the vehicle's speed in keeping with the limit for the area it's in, although the cars are always accompanied by a driver that can take over if necessary.

"One of the big problems we're working on today is car safety and efficiency. Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use," Google said in a blog.

The search engine said that according to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents.

"We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half. We're also confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new 'highway trains of tomorrow'."

See also: Google retains search crown in September